Fish & Seafood

Fish belly with black beans and chili fish-blkbeans-chili

I wish I can write a decent introduction for this dish but it has a very short history — it’s a four-hour-old recipe. I can’t give it any lineage either since I am not sure if it’s Chinese, Malaysian, Singaporean, Thai, Indonesian or Filipino. For sure it would fall under the generic label of Southeast Asian cooking since all the ingredients are native to Southeast Asia. What is it, exactly? It is lightly-fried talakitok belly tossed in sautéed tausi (fermented black beans), garlic and finger chilis (siling haba) then garnished with fresh wansuy (cilantro or coriander leaves). And it look all of 10 minutes to cook.

Good for 2 to 3 persons with normal appetite.

Ingredients :

500 grams of talakitok (or any large, fleshy and not too fatty fish) belly
1-1/2 tbsps. of fermented black beans
1/2 head of garlic
3-4 finger chilis
1/2 c. of cooking oil (more if you’re not using a non-stick pan)
a bunch of cilantro for garnish

Cooking procedure :

Cut the fish into smaller pieces (about 2×2 inches to 2×4 inches) and pat try with a kitchen towel.

Wash and drain the black beans. Place in a mortar and crush.

Peel and finely mince the garlic.

Thinly slice the chilis. If you prefer a mildly hot dish, slit the chilis vertically and scrape off the seeds before slicing.

Heat the cooking oil until smoking. Fry the fish, in batches if necessary, until the edges are lightly browned. Do not fry to a crisp — you don’t want a crust to form on the surface which will prevent the fish from absorbing the flavors of the spices and seasoning.

Transfer the fish to a plate and keep warm.

Pour off the oil until only about a tablespoonful remains. Reheat the oil and sauté the garlic, chilis and fermented black beans. Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes or until very fragrant and the chilis start to turn a little soft. Add the fish to the pan and toss well to coat the fish with the crushed beans, garlic and chilis. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Garnish with snipped cilantro and serve immediately.

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